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Makeup For Men: East vs West Ideas of Masculinity

August 28, 2019
August 28, 2019
Jorge Saavedra via Unsplash

The men’s grooming market is expected to reach $166 billion in sales by 2022 at a compound growth rate of 5.4% from 2016 according to Allied Market Research, but men’s makeup is still relatively uncharted territory. Male cosmetics still make up less than 1% of the $465bn global beauty market, but in China, men's makeup is already commercial viable.

In the West our perception of this rising category is men wearing makeup, whereas in the East makeup is integrated into men's grooming. In China the category narrative is about self-improvement and empowerment. It has gone mainstream and it isn't perceived as a threat to masculinity—male beauty is the new normal.

Just The Numbers: 

  • One in five Chinese men born after 1995 use BB cream and lipstick on a regular basis.
  • Tmall’s male beauty market has grown by more than 50% for two years in a row.
  • On Tmall alone, there has been year-on-year sales increase of men’s eyebrow pencil (214%), men’s lipstick (278%), and men’s BB cream (145%).
  • Sales of anti-aging essences purchased by men born after 2000 grew 336% in 2018, surpassing that of all other age groups.

According to Jing Daily, beneath the mainstreaming of makeup for men in China lies a psychological driver that is fundamentally different than the Western norm. "In the West, men makeup is, despite the diminishing social stigma, largely connected with gay culture. Top-notch male beauty influencers such as James CharlesGary Thompson (known as the 'the plastic boy') are mostly gay men, and most of their advocacy promote inclusivity or 'freedom of expression.' In China, instead, the discussion about men makeup is largely associated with personal growth, as if makeup, just like reading and fitness classes, has become a practical tool to advance socially."

Read more on Jing Daily.

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